Sometimes you just don’t feel like sitting at the computer, staring at a bright screen, maintaining perfect posture so your back doesn’t buckle and your elbows don’t freeze at 90 degree angles. Sometimes you just want to plop your tense, tired tuckus into the coziest corner of the house as far away from technology as possible. This is the time when nothing but tea and a book will do, a real live physical book with paper pages, a bendable binding and a formal frontispiece. Making the decision to pull away from the PC is easy enough; deciding what to read, however, is very, very hard. We own a lot of books. I mean, A LOT of books. Don’t ask me how many, but they dominate the condo. We made a special pilgrimage to IKEA in a rented van so we could haul home the tallest Billy bookcases we could find. We need more. Bookcases, that is. We don’t need more books, but they are on their way, too. There are pending purchases in our Amazon shopping cart as long as the Nile; trips to Barnes and Noble where we break oaths not to tarry; and the heady wheel-of-fortune site What Should I Read Next?
Which leads me to that cozy corner where I have assembled a late afternoon snack of pepper-shot pappadum and a tall glass of iced Darjeeling chai tea. I have finally narrowed down my selections. Will it be Eric Ambler’s “A Coffin for Dimitrios”? Chekhov’s “The Cherry Orchard”? Or “The Mysterious Mr. Quin,” the only Agatha Christie work I own and love, a one-off of short stories featuring an elusive, wise and altruistic phantom, never to be written about again? It’s getting late, and I will soon have to start thinking about what to make for dinner tonight. I will quickly read a Quin story, "The World’s End." I snuggle in, sip my tea and crack open the paperback. Hmmmm. What have we here? A bookmark from Borders. I forgot about Borders. You know what that means?
Iced Darjeeling Chai Tea
2 Darjeeling teabags or equivalent loose tea
4 cups water brought just to boil
(You can adjust level of tea strength by adding more tea, using less water, or steeping longer)
4 green cardamom ponds
4 whole cloves
1/2 stick cinnamon, broken
Pour boiling water into teapot or other vessel over the tea and spices. Steep at least 5 minutes, longer for stronger tea. Strain into a room temperature glass and chill ten minutes in refrigerator. Fill another glass with ice and transfer luke warm tea into it. Add sugar and/or milk to your taste. Makes approximately 3 servings.Pappadum are rarely made by the home cook, but purchased in their uncooked state like popcorn. Like popcorn, the thin, flat lentil wafers need to be cooked via roasting or frying. Pappadum can be found in Indian grocers or larger cosmopolitan supermarkets like Whole Foods.PappadumI have both fried them in oil and roasted them in a microwave. Frying requires a great deal of speed and caution to regulate the hot oil. I was very pleased with the effortless microwave results; they were light, extra crispy and free of grease. The link above provides all the cooking options.